By Roger P. Levin, DDS
In these challenging times for ortho practices, orthodontists and their teams must keep a sharp focus on the sources of production and profitability. Other aspects of practice operation are important, but the five ortho production drivers demand priority attention if the practice is to resist decline and increase production.
The essential growth factors for the post-recession ortho practice are:
1. Doctor Referrals
One referring doctor can send $100,000 to $250,000 in production to an ortho practice. With a consistent program that increases the number of referrers, encourages GPs and pediatric dentists to refer more patients, and maintains strong relationships with top referrers, a practice can thrive through good times and bad.
2. Patient Referrals
Internal marketing to generate referrals from patients is equally important. Patients and parents who are pleased with the service they get will be happy to refer friends, family and others if you prompt them to do so. This can be done with a variety of marketing strategies, including:
- Patient testimonials
- A sign at the front desk
- Messages on patient correspondence, brochures, mailers, social media and the practice website
With a well-trained and scripted ortho treatment coordinator (OTC) on staff, an ortho practice can increase case acceptance and starts to 90%. The OTC can quickly establish a relationship, build trust in the doctor and practice, offer financial options and “close”—usually more effectively than the orthodontist.
4. Observation Patients
Practices that neglect observation programs are missing a tremendous growth opportunity. Observation patients are a practice’s future production. By bringing in siblings of patients as early as possible for no-cost appointments, the ortho practice can build a strong relationship based on value—an excellent way to preempt ortho shopping.
5. On-Time Debonds
An ortho practice should set a target of having no more than 2% of patients overdue for debonds. This will minimize the scheduling problems they typically cause and clear the doctor’s schedule for new, income-generating cases. The scheduling coordinator should confirm debond appointments in advance and also contact overdue patients and parents to get them back on schedule as soon as possible.
The Great Recession and new consumer buying behavior call for more intense ortho marketing activities to bring in new patients, convert them to starts, and move them through treatment on time. Any ortho practice can accomplish this by focusing on these five key production drivers.
To learn how to run a more profitable, efficient and satisfying practice, visit the Levin Group Resource Center at www.levingroup.com/ortho—a free online resource with tips, videos and other valuable information. You can also connect with Levin Group on Facebook and Twitter (@Levin_Group) to learn strategies and share ideas.
photo credit: Ben McLeod via photopin cc